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» SmaugMuds.org » General » User Lounge » Icewind dale 2
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Icewind dale 2
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Post is unread #1 Sep 15, 2002, 7:48 pm
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Dwip
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Having completed (sort of) the game in question, I offer a review. With some probable spoilers in the later bits, of course.

It should be understood here that I'm something of a Black Isle fanatic. I've played every Infinity Engine game there is except Planescape: Torment, and liked every single one of them. I've played BG and BG2 more times than I care to count, and I've been through the first IWD at least twice.

That having been said, I won't be doing that with IWD2. I didn't even QUITE finish the game, and most likely won't. But why, you ask. Didn't it have good stuff?

Well, yes, yes it does. 3e D&D rules are great. I know my way around the Infinity Engine really well, and like it a great deal. And the game started out well. You emerge off of your boat, and immediately you're involved in Violent Goblin Warfare. In fact, the entire first chapter is great, even if there were some really hard fights (everything past the bridge), and even if it was all Dungeons and Orcs&#153;. Chapter 2 had some annoying bits, but was still pretty decent overall. About chapter 3 though, things started going horribly wrong. And then it just went downhill faster than an out of control skier.

The first of the really wrong things is some truely horrible area design, of which Chapter 5 is the post child. Most of the chapter is a really, really long fetch the items quest. It might not have been bad, had the area not stretched for three maps that had to be walked across a bunch of times and some directions that didn't make a lot of sense, let alone the almost pointless nature of the quest itself. The second part of Chapter 5, involving some fire elemental kings and such, was a little better, had some decent plot, but had absolutely nothing to do with anything other than making the game longer. And even worse, it was one of a whole host of places where it was impossible to save or rest. Frustrating. There are a few other spots like this, although not as bad. Chapter Three's Fell Wood is a fairly large warp maze, and as MUD players we know how annoying THOSE are. Chapter 2 has the rather hard to understand Aurilite temple, which I needed a walkthrough to get through. Chapter 4 has the dreaded Eight Chambers, one of the very hardest parts of the game, which are a fairly pointless bunch of solo fights with nonsensical goals inspired by somebody's watching a really awful martial arts movie. In fact, Chapter 4 as a whole was inspired by a reall bad martial arts movie, but this isn't the place for my rants about monks in D&D and the Forgotten Realms. Chapters 1 and 6 are the best parts of the game, but even Chapter 6 has some annoying nosave areas, and a few other problems I'll talk about below.

Balancewise, IWD2 is a mess. For starters, you get screwed over for good items pretty much the entire game. Weapons come in increasing numbers and quality as time goes on, and you will be ROLLING in ammo by the time the game ends, and unlike the first game they got some mage equipment, but the whole game you're asking yourself, "Where's the armor?" Where, indeed. I finished the game with, get this, full platemail +1. +1! At level 16-17! For most of the game, I used nonmagical quarter-weight full plate that you acquire at the beginning of chapter 2. My rogue used studded leather +1 until the acquisition of a decent set of studded in Chapter 2's battle square. My mage used some robes from chapter 1 until very, VERY late in chapter 5. So you're underarmored the entire game, and that sucks. It sucks even moreso because you're wading through hundreds of enemies. The fights in this game are HARD. I've lost count of the deaths. Being as how this IS an IWD game, you expect that sort of thing, but... the only reason half of them were hard were because of the PC's utter lack of anything like a proper armor class. The other half... The other half plays like those AD&D games we had when we were 14. "Suddenly, five tarrasques leap out at you..." Towards the end of Chapter 5 and through Chapter 6, pretty much all the boss mobs were possessed of insane amounts of damage reduction. Total DR, no less. My fighters with the best weapons offered by the game were doing two and three points a hit, while the mobs did 20-30 to me. And my mages stood there useless because of spell resistances throught the roof. Of note, the holy avenger fight, the avatar of Xvim, and the last fight with Isair and Medae, which deserves mention for being about the worst fight I've ever seen, with almost invincible badguys that had a portal behind them spawning greater werewolves and crap. Even with cheats, it took forever. And yes, you'll notice I said cheats. If you remember my NWN review, you'll know I said I don't cheat much - only if I've beaten the game or there's a bug. Well, IWD2 finally annoyed me enough to do it. I was tired of not being able to save, or rest, for no good reason. I was tired of pointless uberfights around every corner. The only reason I even kept going was the plot, and that was denied me by a cutscreen crash after the end fight. But yes. Through the latter half of Chapter 5 (which was about a chapter's worth in itself, since Ch5 was LONG), and all through Chapter 6, I cheated when I felt the need. Not going to let me rest and heal? Fine, I'll heal myself. Going to throw unkillable ubermobs at me? Fine, I'll cheatslay them. And this is about the only game I can think of in recent memory where I've done this sort of thing on this kind of level. I dislike doing it a great deal. And don't get me wrong, I like a good hard fight. And I don't suck at them, either - I soloed both BGs and most of IWD - but when, even with every single buff spell I can think of and six of the best summons available, I'm getting my head handed to me with no real challenge on the mob's part, that's a problem.

And so, there you have it. End rating, 4/10 aliens. Go play BG2 again, you'll be happier.
       
Post is unread #2 Sep 16, 2002, 3:11 pm
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Samson
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Ol Dwip practically begged me to comment - so I shall. With something normally frowned upon in forum circles: "Me too"

But seriously, yes. I agree 100% with his assesement. It started out decent, then decayed RAPIDLY into a "hey, you won't die, I shall cheatslay you" type of thing. So badly I chose not to finish the game, deleted it from my hard drive, and GAVE it away to someone at school. I normally would not do this, but I felt no compelling reason to keep it.

Samson rates this: 2/10 lizards. Dwip was once again far too generous :P
       
Post is unread #3 Sep 16, 2002, 6:26 pm
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Dwip
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*shrug*

I feel compelled to note that ratings of 2/10 should be reserved for things such as Ultima IX, which stands out as being one of the worst games I've ever played for whole hosts of reasons. Or Battlespire, for that matter. There's worse things than IWD2. Not by much, but they're there.

And it could have been such a good game, too, is the sad part. Excising about half of Chapter 5 would have made a great start. Some armor. Less reliance on highly damage resistant ubermobs. Excising about half of Chapter 4 wouldn't have hurt, either. I mean, the basic premise of the game is a good one - Take Icewind Dale's massive tactical combat and add a plot. And in the sections where this worked, it worked beautifully. For the most part, I LOVED Chapter 1. I loved running around town doing quests and talking to people and all that, and then I got into fights and it was great. Kuldahar in Chapter 5 and the Severed Hand in Chapter 6 were about the same way. Had more of the game been this way, I'd have loved it.

Well, and the balance issues.
       
Post is unread #4 Sep 17, 2002, 2:59 pm
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Samson
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Perhaps. But then again, I felt it *WAS* as bad as U9, Pagan, and a few others I can't recall the names of that were that bad. It takes ALOT to get me to stop playing something I acquired as a "demo" . When games more or less necessitate cheating, and then drag on, and on, and on...... you get the idea. Said "demo" is now in the hands of another poor soul.

Yes. It could have been much better, and I too normally enjoy the Infinity Engine games. This one just fell flat. Choked and died. One notes that with NWN, I actually did finish it, despite not really liking it all that much either.

Ah well. One can always load Morrowind back up and hunt down some new "ploojins" ( bonus points for those who know where that came from :P ) and have some fun. I hear rumor that Bethesda put out an uberplugin. Might check into that.
       
Post is unread #5 Sep 18, 2002, 9:22 am
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Dwip
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Speaking of Morrowind, there's an ad in my latest issue of Computer Games depicting a Morrowind xpack. We can but salivate in our eagerness.
       
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